"Bernard Haitink: The Symphony Edition" is one of two recent box sets from Decca, marking Haitink's eighty-fifth birthday in 2014. Together with Haitink: The Philips Years this set offers a broad, tantalizing overview of the great Dutch conductor's compelling artistry, and makes a near-perfect introduction to one of the truly magnificent recorded legacies of our time. Haitink will be 85 on 4 March 2014, and this set presents his six complete symphonic cycles by cornerstone classical composers: Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.
Vivacious, young soprano Marie McLaughlin is magnificent as the ill-fated courtesan Violetta in this passionate production of Giuseppe Verdi's timeless classic, directed by the internationally renowned Sir Peter Hall and conducted by one of music's all-time greats, Bernard Haitink. Walter MacNeil brings to striking life the role of Violetta's lover, Alfredo, and Brent Ellis shines as Alfredo's father, Germont. Set in 19th century Paris, this moving story of doomed love and its dramatic deathbed reconciliation remains one of Verdi's most popular operas.
“Trevor Nunn produced his first opera, Idomeneo, Glyndebourne in 1983, with felicitous results. John Napier's designs imaginatively evoke the Cretan milieu, supported by restrained, dignified costumes and lighting. The spare setting now seems a model beside what usually passes for decor today. Within it Nunn directs his principals and chorus with economic yet pointed care. Philip Langridge is a compellingly distraught and haunted Idomeneo, singing with his customary feeling for word-painting. He easily encompasses the longer version of 'Fuor del mar'. Carol Vaness offers a fiery, richly contoured Elettra. Yvonne Kenny's beautifully sung Ilia is more conventional and Jerry Hadley is a fresh, pleasing Idamante. Bernard Haitink conducts a lithe, forward-moving account of the score, though you'll need a high volume setting to get the best out of the sound.” (The Gramophone)
Rachmaninov's opus 1, his first piano concerto, deserves to be heard more often. The opening bars have that heroic sound that raises the hair on the back of the neck. Indeed those first moments rank alongside those of the Grieg and Tchaikovsky piano concertos for their ability to thrill. Ashkenazy's breathtaking playing on a superb piano is matched by that of the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Haitink's direction.
This recording gives a fascinating portrait of the approach to Bruckner’s music developed by Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra over their many years of working together.